from The Atlantic –
May 2020 – Nikki thought about going back. But then she remembered one of her last conversations with her grandmother. She had forbidden Nikki from going to a certain friend’s house. They’d both heard that the friend’s mom had become addicted to OxyContin prescribed for a back injury, and had started buying pills from a dealer when her prescription ran out. She was arrested for illegal possession, then released on probation without any treatment. When she relapsed, she feared she’d lose custody of her kids for failing a drug test. Her dealer told her she could erase the OxyContin from her system by drinking Clorox. So she did, and it killed her.
That was a turning point for Sue. She’d always urged Nikki to go away to college so she could return and use what she’d learned to help people in Appalachia. But after this mother’s death, she changed her mind. “Just go,” she told Nikki. “And don’t come back.”